No end to cruel cockfights
No end to cruel cockfights

Cockfights have become a controversy for the last few years with some animal welfare organisations and NGOs approaching the court urging it to impose ban on the blood sport. This has become a regular feature every year. The High Court upholds the ban on cockfight and the Government of Andhra Pradesh issues orders that people should honour the court orders and follow instructions by ensuring that they do not tie knives to the legs of the roosters during the three-day Sankranti Festival.

Furthermore, on January 8, 2017, the Supreme Court of India also in an appeal filed against the order prohibiting cockfights has refused to stay the ban. 

But in spite of the ban and police claims of ‘appropriate actions’ it is being organised in districts like Krishna, Prakasam, Guntur, and East and West Godavari. The Mangaluru-Udupi region in Karnataka, Karur and Dharmapuri districts in Tamil Nadu and Kasargod district in Kerala still follow a tradition that is cruel, sadistic and gory. Roosters die gruesome deaths to thrill gamblers. The stakes range between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 10 lakh. “The hosts sharpen the claws of the birds to such an extent that they rip open the flesh of the opponent. The fights are conducted secretively, and entry is restricted”,  A diet of almond, cashews and minced meat, healthy exercise, and occasional injections of muscle-building hormones and antibiotics — this is what it takes to nurture a badass rooster.

The massive support by the political class has forced the Law and Order agencies to turn a blind eye. People including politicians claim that they would honour the court order in letter and spirit and would ensure that this time the cockfight would be a customary celebration and that there would be no blood bath. They also claim that they would organise the cockfight and later host lunch for all the participants as part of Sankranti celebrations. But all this would continue till the day of Bhogi, January 13 and thereafter the cockfight would become a major business.  

The more unfortunate part is that the cock fight has become a money minting opportunity for organisers who place heavy bets on the outcome of cockfights and make huge amount of money at the expense of the lives of roosters. The cockfight brings together the leaders of all political parties and this is perhaps the only issue on which they always agree and remain united. Wish such unity was shown on the floor of the State Assembly when people’s issues are discussed. There, they fight like roosters with knives.

This Sankranti is likely to spring a surprise as the cockfight which is not so popular in Telangana is likely to open its account. The very fact that 29 roosters and about 20 people who were training the roosters were caught on Sunday gives us preview of what is in store for Telangana.